Editor's Note: This post was supposed to go up Tuesday afternoon but due to loss of internet at home and then travel constraints it didn't go up until 12 hours later.
Apple surprised pretty much no one today with the news that they had a couple new iPads.
The iPad Air is indeed thinner, lighter, and smaller than its predecessor (just like the leaked components lead us to believe). It measures a mere 7.5mm thin but still manages to squeeze in a Retina display and an A7 64-bit processor while still weighing only a pound.
The new iPad has new wifi tech, dual mikes for better sound pickup, a 5MP camera, and still costs $499 and up. The iPad Air is going to displace the iPad 4 when it ships, but Apple still plans to continue selling the iPad 2 ($399).
None of that is a big surprise, but the news about the iPad Mini does include a few surprises.
The new iPad Mini has the Retina display (2048 x 1546 resolution) and A7 processor we were expecting, but it is also getting a bump in storage and in price. The new iPad can come with up to 128GB Flash storage (for an extortionate sum). The base model with wifi and 16 GB of storage is going to cost $399, or about $70 more than its predecessor.
Speaking of which, Apple is going to keep last year's iPad Mini around as their budget model. They're going to charge $299 for it, or about $100 more than it is worth. And as per older versions of iOS devices in the store, the original iPad Mini will only be available with 16 GB of storage.
So it seems that Apple is going to follow the same strategy for their iPad Mini as for the iPad. They have released an expensive cutting edge tablet and paired it with a cheaper model that has great specs - if this were 2011.
Last year's iPad Mini is effectively an iPad 2 in a smaller shell, and when compared to this year's Nexus 7 the ipad Mini was an underpowered CPU, ridiculously low resolution screen, and it comes in second in every way except for the logo it bears.
But even though the specs are mediocre by today's standards I think it's a shame Apple plans to sell it for $299; it would kill at $199. At the lower price point it would still be IMO overpriced but it would clean up. Apple could have capitalized on the idea that people could get an iPad for less than a Kindle Fire. This would have been a "die, Android, die" strategy and it would have shaken up the 7" Android tablet market.
Moving back to the new iPad Mini, I should probably add that I don't have the same reservations about this tablet. I think that the A7 CPU and screen might justify the $399 price tag. I have been following the news about the A7's benchmark tests and the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s is a significantly faster processor than almost anything else on the market.
If the A7 chip in the new iPad Mini (and the iPad Air) shows a similar benchmark and the tablets show a similar level of performance when in user's hands then I think the higher price is well-deserved.